MADISON – For as inconsistent as Wisconsin had been shooting the basketball over the last month of games, the Badgers could take solace at their defense and intangibles helped get them to the finish line.
When those things finally faltered, the Badgers couldn’t save itself.
Bryant McIntosh scored 25 points to give Northwestern a signature win to its resume with a 66-59 victory over No.7 Wisconsin, ending the Badgers’ 19-game home winning streak.
Playing without leading scorer Scottie Lindsey, the Wildcats (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten) shot 48.3 percent from the floor in the second half, dropped seven 3-pointers and locked down on sophomore Ethan Happ with double teams over the final 30 minutes every time he touched the post.
Senior Nigel Hayes scored 13 points to lead the Badgers (21-4, 10-2), which saw its first-place lead over Maryland and Purdue shrink to one game with six to go.
Digging itself a 9-point halftime deficit thanks to a combination of poor shooting, lax ball security and leaving open 3-point shooters, the Badgers went from scoring 14 points in first 10 possessions to only eight over final 19.
There was a glimmer of hope to begin the second half, as Wisconsin ripped off a 10-0 by holding Northwestern scoreless on its first five possessions and dropping a couple early perimeter shots, but a 14-5 run built the lead to 47-38 with 9:31 to go.
The Badgers couldn’t cut the lead closer than four, unable to stop McIntosh’s push into the lane or the missed assignments coming back to haunt them.
Wisconsin finished the game one of its last seven, the only make coming on a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer
The Badgers will next head to Michigan (16-9, 6-6), a team in narrowly beat by four at the Kohl Center on Jan.17.
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